Organizing Tip: How to Organize a Shoe Collection 

Image of a kitten chewing on a shoelace of a sneaker, photography by R. Isip Do you have lots of shoes at home?

They could be lurking in your hallway, clothes closet, in your living room…just to name a few places!

Wondering how you should go about organizing them?

In this post I offer a few tips to help you to tackle and organize an overflowing shoe collection.

(Hint: the solution is to not to eat your shoes or shoelaces, like the cute kitten in the attached photo.)

Organizing Tip: How to Organize a Shoe Collection 

Streamline your collection. 

You’ve got lots and lots of shoes, but how many of those pairs do you actually even wear on a regular basis? Before you even think about organizing your collection, you should make a thorough inspection of your shoes. Divide your collection into the following piles: shoes you want to keep, shoes that are lightly worn or not worn at all and can be donated, shoes that are heavily damaged and beyond repair. Having trouble deciding whether or not you should keep a pair? Get rid of shoes that are:

  • Not your size (and as such, will never fit your feet)
  • Uncomfortable to wear for even a short period of time
  • Overly worn, torn, ripped, scuffed or beyond any form of repair by a shoemaker or cobbler

Organize shoes by usage. 

One of the easiest ways to organize shoes is by usage. For example, you probably have shoes that you use for work, casual events, elegant affairs and certain sports. Going even further, there’s probably several pairs of shoes in your wardrobe you wear on a regular basis. Pull out these pairs and focus on storing them in easily accessible places throughout your home in your bedroom, hallway or mudroom. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous when it comes to organization, you can bump up the bar and organize your shoes by color, heel height, fabric or material, season, close toe versus open toe, company or brand, treads and so on. For all those other pairs that are used only occasionally during certain seasons or events, you’ll want to create separate storage.

Select smart storage solutions.

There’s tons of ways to store shoes; the trick is to find a method that work for you and your available living space (not everyone can have a walk-in shoe closet, sigh…). Look for storage materials that allow shoes to breathe and air out when not in use. Choose from over the door shoe hangers and sleeves, old bookcases or other low forms of shelving or cubbyholes (you can store your shoes side by side), under the bed storage containers and so on. If you have a small shoe collection, you can just line up your shoes neatly on the floor of your clothes closet or in a hallway. You should also get into the habit of rotating your shoes by season; you’re probably not going to wear knee high leather boots in the summer or strappy sandals in the middle of a snowstorm in the wintertime.

How about you? What is your favorite pair of shoes? Where you store or keep them so you always have access to them? Join in the conversation and leave a comment below!

3 Inexpensive Ways to Boost Your Productivity 

Image of a statue of a small chicken sitting on top of a large egg, photography by R. Isip Do you think you have to buy apps or other materials in order to increase your productivity at home or at work?

Looking for a few simple and inexpensive ways to give your productivity a boost?

In this post I offer three small tips to help you give your productivity a low-cost assist.

3 Inexpensive Ways to Boost Your Productivity 

Make a production line. 

No matter your profession or industry, you can improve your workflow by preparing a simple production of individual materials that either need to be assembled or collated into one larger unit. Think of any type of task or project in your work that requires the same type of repetitive action(s) over and over again. Then, break these actions into individual steps. For example, in an office setting, you might collate various materials into presentation folders for a meeting, by laying out speaker bios, copies of presentation slides and agenda, followed by the folders themselves. You’d simply go down this production line and assembly your materials one by one until you produce a finished folder.

Prepare a kit. 

Do you regularly use the same tools at home or at work on a regular basis? Preparing a kit with all of your tools is a much more efficient way of keeping and using materials. There’s no need to run about from room to room finding all the tools you need to work on some calligraphy, give yourself a manicure, or work on building a wooden dresser from scratch. What types of large or small projects do you have going on at work or at home? What type of kit could you prepare to help you get down to work at a moment’s notice?

Consolidate several days’ worth of small tasks into one work session.  

Small, regular tasks can become annoying and draining very fast when you have to perform the same action day-in and day-out on a piecemeal basis. While the actual time it takes to perform a small task such as updating your company’s Facebook page might be less than two minutes, it can sometimes feel as if the process takes two hours to complete when you have to do it each and every day! Instead, try consolidating many of these small task sessions into a longer session so you can get more done in any given setting. For example, in the example above, you might want to pre-schedule Facebook updates for the next week. An added bonus to this approach is that the work must get done as all the tasks have to be completed at the same time.

How about you? What other inexpensive ways of boosting your productivity can you think of? Which of the tips above will you implement right away in your life? Join in the conversation and leave a comment below!

Organizing Tip: How to Streamline Customer Service at a Fast Food Restaurant 

Image of a menu, "Clam Bar, Corn on Cob, Hot Dog, Fried Fish, Hamburgers" Have you ever visited a new restaurant on opening day?

There’s a charge of excitement in the air as you get ready to try a new culinary experience for the very first time.

Unfortunately, a less than stellar customer service experience filled with miscommunication, confusing lines and a lengthy wait period for food is not the best thing to have if you’re trying to spread the word about your new business…

Today’s post comes courtesy of an experience I had the other day at a newly opened location of a fast food restaurant. I had signed up for a free meal voucher, available only that day at that particular location, and was eager to try the new place out.*

In today’s post I describe a few changes I would have made in order to make the customer service experience that much more seamless and enjoyable.

Organizing Tip: How to Streamline Customer Service at a Food Restaurant  

Show customers where to place their order. 

When we first arrived at the restaurant it wasn’t clear where we should place our order. There were equal numbers of people were standing and milling around at the cashier’s station and food preparation station on the long counter. We asked an employee handing out menus where we should place our order, to which he replied, “I’ll help you with that.” We followed him on his path down the length of the counter only to see him open a new register at the other end of the counter and say “Next customer please!” Hmm, not very helpful. If the manpower couldn’t be spared to show customers where to place their order, a simple, large “Order Here!” sign at the registers would have sufficed along with a “Pick Up Food Here!” sign near the food preparation area.

Ensure menus are easy to read and located in a prominent location.  

While there were a few digital screens with menu information off to one side near the registers, the screens flashed way too quickly for anyone to read or discern what was on them so as to make a decision on what to order. There were small-hand held menus available for people to read (this was after the employee handing out menus ran around the counter to open a new register), they were unfortunately all located right in front of the cashier’s station. This meant you had to push your way through people waiting on line and interrupt someone else’s transaction just to get a menu. Similar to the tip above, it would have helped to have a large sign with the word “Menu” on it, and perhaps have those screens display the menu for a longer period of time…or just have a large hanging sign with the menu behind the counter.

Make sure menu items are in stock and available for purchase. 

Cashier: “Would you like a beverage with your meal?” 

Me: (looks at beverage menu on counter) “Sure, I’ll have an iced tea please.” 

Cashier: (turns around and looks at drink cooler) “Uh, we don’t seem to have iced tea at the moment.” 

Me: (looks at the bare drink cooler) “Umm, well, what beverages do you have?” 

What’s the point in having an item on the menu when it isn’t available for purchase? Not only is this practice annoying, it also slows down the transaction process as customers have to stop and think about what you would like to have…and then wonder if that new item is available for purchase. If menu items are not in stock, a simplified, temporary menu would have worked just fine.

Communicate clearly with customers. 

We placed our order within a few minutes of arriving at the restaurant and moved down the counter to wait for our food.  We waited. And waited. And waited some more. Pretty soon, lots of people who had placed their orders after us, received their meals first. How did our orders get pushed so far back behind? Now, even if our food was not yet ready or fully prepared, someone should have realized there were a whole bunch of people waiting around. Instead of ignoring the large numbers of people gathering and waiting, at least communicating with them about what was happening or going to happen with our orders would have smoothed out the experience. Eventually this did happen, albeit some 10-15 minutes later.

*In case you were wondering, the free meal was okay…what can I say, you get what you pay for!

How about you? Have you ever experienced a poorly organized business operation first-hand? What would you have changed to make the customer’s experience that much more smoother and enjoyable? Join in the conversation and leave a comment below!

Why the Time You Ignore Is the Most Important Time in Your Schedule

Image of clouds and sunset over a harbor, photography by R. Isip In today’s busy world there’s a premium put on the time we spend doing something.

What about all that other time that just flies by, day in and out, seemingly unaccounted for as we go about our days?

In this post I offer a few reasons why the time you ignore just might be the most important time in your schedule.

Why the Time You Ignore Is the Most Important Time in Your Schedule

It helps identify where you need to balance your schedule. 

Have you ever seen a schedule jam-packed with appointments and meetings? While it looks as if the day is thoroughly productive, the schedule is wholly one-sided with action and not much room for planning, regrouping, reviewing or even refreshing. There’s not enough “negative space” in the schedule to prepare for all the different items within the schedule itself! When it comes to balancing out your schedule, instead of looking at the obviously scheduled items, consider that “negative space” or “negative time.” What’s going on there? What do you find yourself doing (or not doing) during this time? For example, do you have enough time to prepare your presentation for your weekly team meeting, go grocery shopping, or travel five blocks to your next appointment?

You can make a lot happen in just a couple of minutes every day. 

Five minutes here, five minutes there…five minutes isn’t a lot of time, right? Add up five minutes each day over the course of 365 days and you’ve got an amazing 1,825 minutes, or 30.42 hours. That’s over a full day! It can be easy to dismiss something as simple as five minutes day in and day out, but the actual cumulative effect of these minutes is staggering. Instead of dismissing small bits of time, value them for what they are worth: time that can be used. What can you do in a few minutes that will help you work towards your larger goals. If you’ve got a large project in mind, say decluttering your dining room table, five minutes spent decluttering over the course of just a single month will work wonders.

Time is always available and there for you to use.

Think you have no time? Think again. The time you don’t pay attention to is always available to you…well, granted you actually look for this time. Consider pulling open your calendar or making a short schedule of your daily routine. Where are there lulls or otherwise unused periods of time? Are you spending way too much time on a task or chore that can be done rather quickly without ill an effect on the outcome? Once you realize you can always make the choice to pay more attention as to how you spend your time, the better off you will be in managing your time overall.

How about you? What periods of time in your daily routines are really important to you, even though you might not think twice about them? Join in the conversation and leave a comment below!

Productivity Tip: 6 Ways to Stay Focused While You Work

Image of bronze Hans Christian Andersen statue in Central Park, NY, photography by R. Isip Do you find it difficult to stay focused as you work?

Do you feel as if your productivity is suffering because of your lack of focus?

In this post I offer six quick tips to help you buckle down and get the job done.

Productivity Tip: 6 Ways to Stay Focused While You Work 

Ask people not to disturb you. 

Constantly bombarded by brief drop-ins, phone calls or other distractions by other people? Here’s a surprisingly simple tip: ask people not to disturb you. In some cases, a quick conversation will suffice as in, “I’m working on a project for the next hour, please don’t disturb me unless it is an absolute life or death emergency,” while other times you might have to resort to putting a blatant sign on your door that you are not to be disturbed. If that’s not working either, try to find a quiet corner or change your location completely to ensure you won’t be bothered.

Set a goal and reward yourself.

Before you sit down to your work, create a specific goal for you to reach as well as a small reward. It could be something like getting a cup of your favorite tea after finishing two chapters of a book, listening to bunch of your favorite songs after writing an intense client email, or taking a quick walk around the block after you’ve finished decluttering your kitchen counters. Whatever you choose, make sure your goal is truly attainable within a brief period of time and your reward is something you will truly look forward to.

Turn something off.

One of the more forgotten aspects of the digital age is that we have the ability to switch digital devices and programs completely off. Working on an off-line computer and afraid you’ll check out your social media accounts? Turn off your internet connection and your cellphone. Not using an app on your computer? Exit out of the program. Tired of receiving daily email updates from a site you visit everyday? Unsubscribe from their mailing list. It’s that simple.

Work in small chunks of time. 

Having trouble sitting down for three hours straight and focusing on your work? You should be! You’re a human, not a robot, and you cannot be expected to have crystal sharp focus over such a long period of time. Try working in small time increments instead such as fifteen, twenty or thirty minute intervals and then take a quick break. You can still be productive without slogging through something for hours at a time.

Switch to full screen mode on your computer. 

Stop being distracted by applications, your desktop wallpaper and anything else you may have going on your computer at any given point in time. Try switching to full screen mode on your computer when you are writing, composing music, watching a video or reading an online article.

Clear off your desk or workspace. 

If you’re regularly distracted by the items sitting on top of your desk, it might be time for some spring cleaning. Take a peek at the items sitting on top of your desk or workspace. Are there any items there that shouldn’t be there? What items are distracting your eyes or bothering you as you work? Whether you work at a chopping block, garage work table, counter, or desk, properly put items back where they belong or find a new, out-of-the way home for items so you can focus on the task at hand.

How about you? What tends to distract you as you work? What steps will you take to minimize these distractions and help you focus on your work? Join in the conversation and leave a comment below!

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